Directed and co-written by Mel Gibson
, one of Hollywood's most respected actors and directors, The Passion of The Christ
dramatically and graphically captures the last 12 hours of Christ's life on Earth, based on the gospels of Matthew
. The film - a project in which Gibson invested 12 years of his life and $25 million of his own funds-became the Oscar-winning actor's unique passion as he researched the details of the story that, in his words, "heals me."
"Making this film has been the most difficult thing I've ever done," Gibson told Outreach Magazine
. "And watching it is not easy to do. It's difficult, because Christ's Passion was difficult. But in watching it, I've found it's actually purged me. It somehow heals me to watch it. It's a strange thing. I've never experienced a film like it."
The film has stirred controversy, from difficulties finding a distributor to outright media hostility. "There have been a lot of obstacles thrown in the way," says Gibson. "It's dangerous material. You're talking about the single event that... influenced civilization as we know it now.... It's affected every possible aspect of anyone's life, whether they know it or not... this is big stuff you're dealing with."
Gibson set out to make the most authentic film about Christ ever made. He feels that the story of Jesus' death and resurrection has never been filmed accurately according to the four Gospels, the historical setting of first-century Palestine, and the physical brutality of the crucifixion. "I don't think it's ever been told as it should be," he says.
By Mel's own admission the film is very graphic, earning an R rating for violence. "There's nothing gratuitous in the film," says actor James Caviezel, who plays Jesus, "The violence is there for a purpose." Gibson explains, "My aim is to profoundly change people... The audience has to experience the harsh reality to understand it." He adds, "But when you finally see it and understand what He went through, it makes you feel not only compassion, but also a debt. You want to repay Him for the enormity of His sacrifice."